Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Great Blue Heron - Bryher, Isles of Scilly, 25 April 2015


A Young Birder on a twitch to the Isles of Scilly



At heart, I am a twitcher. However much birding and ringing I do, I can't resist a good old fashioned twitch. This spring has been great for rare vagrants, raising my excitement levels.

On Saturday 25th April 2005, we left our Somerset home to go on a twitch to see a Great Blue Heron. The Heron is from America and something I had seen before in South America and so wasn't a world tick but it was a second for Britain and so new for all of us. We left the house at 3 am to drive all the way down to Cornwall to get the first plane to the Isles of Scilly at 8.30 am. The Heron had turned up the week before but had been flying around 3 islands and so been giving people the run around. We couldn't go the weekend before because my gran was visiting. We tried not to mention the bird or show our disappointment. Gran arrived again for a second visit two weekends in a row but this time dad couldn't bear it any longer and ditched her for the day. She didn't seem to mind too much and spent the day shopping in Bath instead. She must be used to it after all these years 

As we arrived into the car park, dad had a phone all from his good friend James Packer, who knew we were going to Scilly. His first words were ominously"are you on the plane yet?”. OMG! There was a Hudsonian Godwit at Meare Heath on the Somerset Levels, a place about thirty minutes from our house and virtually part of our local patch.

What to do? We decided that our master plan was to see the Heron, get the first boat back to Penzance at 12.45 pm (there were fortunately two boats that day due to expected bad weather) and drive back down to Somerset slightly above the speed limit, to get to the Godwit by 7 pm with plenty of light.

So, we got the 8.30 am plane across to St Mary's and shared a fast boat to Bryher that some other forward planning twitchers had booked. We were extremely lucky because within twenty minutes of arriving, we managed to see the Heron really well. People had been waiting until lunch time to see the bird in recent days, so we couldn't believe how our plan was slotting into place.



Great Blue Heron, Bryher, Isles of Scilly
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig



Great Blue Heron, Bryher, Isles of Scilly
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig


We then speed walked back to the Bryher quay, just in time to catch the boat back to St Mary’s as a boat load of birders arrived in the opposite direction.  Back in St Mary's, we were just in time check e-mails in the deli before catching the Scillonian  back to Penzance on mainland Cornwall.  There had been bad weather the day before with cancelled flights as well as no flights since the early morning.  So an extra boat had been added, which was overflowing with passengers desperate to get back to mainland. So while we were patiently waiting in a traditional English queue, we bumped into our friends Rob Lambert and Lucy McRoberts as well as Scottish birder Ken Shaw.  We spent the Scillonian crossing chatting to them, before quickly sharing a taxi to from Penzance Quay to our cars at the St Just Airport.  We were all aiming to see the Husonian Godwit before dark, so naturally we made it into a little competition. Whoever got there first got the bragging rights.


We did get there first just after 7 pm, but unfortunately the Hudsonian Godwit had flown off at 4.30 pm. We all stayed until dark, not wanting to leave in case the bird returned and we were gripped off.

The only plus was a lovely male bittern showing in the reeds really well.



Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Meare Heath, Somerset Levels
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig at Meare Heath, Somerset Levels
Photograph taken by and copyright Helena Craig

Bittern, Meare Heath, Somerset Levels
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig


Meare Heath, Somerset Levels
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig



Meare Heath, Somerset Levels
Photograph taken by and copyright Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig


Although we had seen en extremely rare bird, it was hard not to be disappointed missing a bird so close to home and which was seen by so many people.  But, there was always tomorrow....


About the writer


Young Birder Birdgirl Mya-Rose Craig on Scilly
Photograph taken by and copyright Chris Craig


Mya-Rose Craig is a 12 year old young birder, conservationist, writer and speaker.    She is based near Bristol and writes the successful Birdgirl Blog, with posts about birding and conservation from around the world. She is looking forward to Mountain Gorilla trekking in East Africa this summer and watching penguins in Antarctica in December, her 7th continent. She has recently been listed with the singer songwriter George Ezra and actress Maisie Williams from Game of Thrones as one of Bristol's most influential young people.  Please like her Birdgirl Facebook Page and follow her on Birdgirl Twitter












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